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  • FP&S funding, not really for fire departments

    In light of the 2016 Fire Prevention & Safety grant application period being announced in the coming weeks, take notice to some of the information that I have gathered from the AFG website regarding this particular portion of the AFG program. This purpose of this post is to take aim at the FP&S portion of the AFG program. Quite honestly, this is the format I have chosen so as to not put a target on my fire department's back.

    Let me start with some facts about the 2015 FP&S program. Per the NOFO, "The purpose of the FP&S Program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire and fire-related hazards by assisting fire prevention programs and supporting firefighter health and safety research and development". Something unique with the FP&S program is that it is the only AFG program that allows private and public non-profit organizations to apply for funding. In 2015, $34 million dollars were allocated for FP&S. Per the NOFO, "Funding priorities and criteria for evaluating applications submitted under this NOFO are established by FEMA based on the recommendations from the Criteria Development Panel (CDP)." "Each year, FEMA convenes a panel of fire service professionals to develop funding priorities for the FP&S Grant program." "The panel makes recommendations about funding priorities as well as developing criteria for awarding grants." "The nine major fire service organizations represented on the panel are: International Association of Fire Chiefs - International Association of Fire Fighters - National Volunteer Fire Council - National Fire Protection Association -National Association of State Fire Marshals - International Association of Arson Investigators - International Society of Fire Service Instructors - North American Fire Training Directors- Congressional Fire Service Institute.?
    "The CDP is charged with making recommendations to FEMA regarding the creation or modification of previously established funding priorities as well as developing criteria for awarding grants. The content of this NOFO reflects implementation of the CDP's recommendations with respect to the priorities, direction, and criteria for awards."

    It's important to take note that these are the same 9 organizations that select people to sit on the peer review panels that evaluate your grant submissions.

    So here's some numbers from the last three awarded FP&S grants cycles. Our peer review panels have essentially awarded themselves the following: 2013- $4,185,924; 2014- $6,380,756; 2015-$6,781,078 or roughly 17% of the total available funds each year.

    So some of you fellow fire department grant writers might not think that is too terrible, but consider the following. Of the $34,000,000 dollars available under the FP&S grants, the following was what was actually awarded to local level fire department organizations each year: 2013- $7,894,284; 2014- $4,547,829; 2015- $5,159,662. This is essentially the pool of grant funds you are competing for.

    Let's look at it another way. The following are the funds allocated to organizations over the last three years that are not fire departments: 2013- $26,105,716; 2014- $29,452,171; 2015- $28,840,338.

    So here we are, $28 million federal dollars on average are given out each year for FP&S grants to national organizations. I personally would love to know what these dollars are doing to prevent fire related injuries and deaths. I know that my local level initiatives are making a difference, but unfortunately, I can't get funded.



    If you've read this far, I've probably made you mad. I propose that these national organizations that are getting funded for national initiatives actually have to release to the public what the funds they have been awarded have funded. I want to know what the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois has done with $1.4 million dollars.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
    Last edited by FireWhistle; 02-18-2017, 09:51 PM.

  • #2
    FireWhistle - As you noted per the FP&S NOFO, "The purpose of the FP&S Program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters..." It's important to note the "AND FIREFIGHTERS" component of that sentence. In fact, a significant amount of funding is allocated to research organizations to study a variety of issues with tactics, equipment, technology, etc. This research improves the knowledge base for firefighting operations and is intended to result in technological advancements or shifts in operational strategies to improve safety for all US firefighters.

    Regarding your specific question about the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois: they have actually received multiple $1M+ awards in the past few years. In general, those awards help fund research through the Illinois Fire Service Institute such as the July 2008 research paper on "Firefighter Fatalities and Injuries: The Role of Heat Stress and PPE." This paper is publicly available and clearly acknowledges the funding support from AFG/FP&S. You can find the paper here
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...3IkgZA&cad=rja

    You can also see a list of other research projects from the Illinois Fire Service Institute at https://www.fsi.illinois.edu/content...h/projects.cfm

    We could have a debate about the benefits of using FP&S dollars to fund research on firefighter safety v. civilian safety. However, I hope the info and examples i've provided help clarify that the FP&S dollars you were concerned about are generally being used for the benefit of the fire service as a whole.

    -dave

    Comment


    • #3
      Dave, appreciate your feedback. My intent was not to single out The University of Illinois, or any other group, but to simply point out that $1.4 million dollars could certainly go along way at the FD level to support grassroots fire prevention activities. I find it unfortunate that FEMA is not releasing the results of their investment in these national initiatives. Perhaps their "success stories" page could be changed to a page that releases the reports paid for with FP&S funds. Some of these organizations are getting funded yearly. What did $28 million dollars produce last year? FEMA paid for these studies and FEMA should be releasing the results.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by FireWhistle View Post
        It's important to take note that these are the same 9 organizations that select people to sit on the peer review panels that evaluate your grant submissions.

        So here's some numbers from the last three awarded FP&S grants cycles. Our peer review panels have essentially awarded themselves the following: 2013- $4,185,924; 2014- $6,380,756; 2015-$6,781,078 or roughly 17% of the total available funds each year.
        The above is personally offensive. The organization that I go to peer representing has NEVER said anything about grading any application. Never. Not even a hint. It is NEVER about awarding anything to ourselves, or to benefit us or our sponsoring group in any way.

        I can tell you also, some of those groups have an issue getting enough VOLUNTEERS to go and do peer, perhaps you should volunteer so you can see what it is really like?

        Wow.

        I would think more that most departments never apply for a FP&S grant. I have written a number of applications for the FP&S and all were funded. Only a few other departments I deal with (and the number of departments I deal with is not small) apply, and most enjoy funding.

        Perhaps if you are not getting funded, it is due to the person writing the grant application rather then the program?



        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post

          The above is personally offensive. The organization that I go to peer representing has NEVER said anything about grading any application. Never. Not even a hint. It is NEVER about awarding anything to ourselves, or to benefit us or our sponsoring group in any way.


          So you can honestly say that you see no conflict of interest in that groups that are competing for grants set the funding priorities for the grants that they ultimately peer review to determine who gets funded.?
          Last edited by FireWhistle; 02-20-2017, 05:00 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            They aren't the ones doing the Peer Review. They gather the names of volunteers who want to go but as far as I've ever found no one directly employed or in a decision making roles for those organizations handles Peer Review.

            Like Dave said, we can debate all day about what's better, $1mil for smoke detectors to local FDs or a study to develop better widgets. I don't mean widgets in a degrading manner, there have been many studies that have resulted in improved tactics, PPE, staffing level studies, etc, etc. One is an in the field immediate benefit through more smoke detectors, but doesn't handle anything related to how we attack the fires when they do happen. Studies are long-term, it's the nature of the beast. If a better PPE comes of it for that which we can't prevent and it saves some lives, that's beneficial also.

            I highly doubt anything has been wasted in those studies making left-handed smoke shifters, dime would have been dropped on that by now. Definitely no short debate on which brand of funding brings about the most benefits, both have benefits in long-term which is part of the end goal. It's just about which road to take to get there, and whether it's local or national pushes that make them happen.
            Brian P. Vickers
            CEO - Vickers Consulting Services, Inc
            FH.com/Firehouse Mag Contributor
            www.helpmewithgrants.com
            www.facebook.com/vcsinc

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by FireWhistle View Post

              So you can honestly say that you see no conflict of interest in that groups that are competing for grants set the funding priorities for the grants that they ultimately peer review to determine who gets funded.?
              I can absolutely say that there is no correlation between the group that sponsors me to do Peer Review, and how ANY application is graded. I also feel VERY comfortable with stating the other Peer Reviewers are the same.

              I also AGAIN suggest you become a peer reviewer and see for yourself, instead of bitching about a system you know very little about.

              It might help you hone your grant writing skills so you can get funded on your applications also.

              Comment


              • #8
                FireWhistle, I think you are also missing a very important thing. If you feel so strongly about this point you should be aware that ANY funded application is subject to FOIA. If you want to know, the award lists are public knowledge, as will be the respective application. Seek and you shall find! You also may not be aware that about 6 years ago a study was funded by the CDC to test the theory of whether fire prevention money being awarded was in fact really preventing injuries and death by fire to all concerned, the public and firefighters. As a result of the study, significant and drastic changes occurred to how you must apply and what you may ask for. It also caused reporting requirements to become much more stringent.
                Kurt Bradley
                Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
                " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

                Comment

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